Mathematics is integral part of life. Everything we do is governed by it; from refitting a bathroom to working out your tax to engineering a bridge. At Saint Martin’s teaching the skills required is the main focus. Problem solving and application can only be learned once mathematical skill has been mastered.
Mathematics is the language with which God wrote the universe — Galileo
At Saint Martin’s, teachers teach. Students are not expected to investigate and draw their own conclusions. Here’s why.
Pythagoras Theorem was known by the ancient Babylonians who lived 1000 years before Pythagoras. Pythagoras was simply the first person to formally write it down. If it took a 1000 years for a genius to come along and write it down, how is it reasonable to expect a group of 12 year olds to work that out in about 45 minutes?
A good teacher can explain concepts quickly and concisely. They can show the most efficient way to solve a problem. They can demonstrate the symbols and language that is expected and how to lay the problem out to make the solution clear.
Students are expected to listen, learn the facts, write down examples and practise. When errors occur, students are expected to complete “follow up tasks” to help them correct the error or misconception.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
These skills are tested weekly to ensure rapid progress is made by developing the quick natural reflexes that reduce errors and allow speedy problem solving. These “Basic Skills Tests” are a check in on the student’s knowledge. They are quick and are low stakes, that is to say they do not make a significant contribution towards a students end of year grade.
As these skills are mastered, deeper more complex testing of problem solving is required. To do this, students sit an assessment every half term which asks more difficult questions and probes their understanding.
We have a 5 year curriculum – from the start of Year 7, everything leads to GCSE.
A student’s future is driven by achieving a good GCSE pass in mathematics and English. It is important that they do well in mathematics.
For GCSE study we use the AQA exam board, linear specification 8300. This is a 2 tier specification with Foundation (Grade 1-5) being taught separately from Higher (Grade 4-9) and includes content based on;
- Ratio and Proportion
It is our aim that most students should attempt the Higher paper with only the least able being allowed to take Foundation.
GCSE FURTHER MATHEMATICS
Since 2016, we have offered GCSE Further Mathematics as an additional mathematics qualification. This is only available to Set 1 mathematicians.
The vast majority of these students go on to do A Level mathematics. Feedback from these students is that they have found that they know far more than their counterparts who came from other schools and that they are therefore, finding the work easier.
LESS ABLE STUDENTS
Not everyone finds mathematics easy, however, we believe that even those who find it tough must be encouraged and pushed to succeed.
In order to achieve this, we have introduced special classes based on Direct Instruction.
This is a different teaching technique that uses pre-printed resources, direct teaching and a fast pace to push students along. It does not encourage slower learning with more time. Instead it encourages faster learning to catch up. Classes are small and are taught by specially trained staff. Our first Direct Instruction Students will take GCSE in 2020.
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
In addition to our classroom activities, Saint Martin’s enters students the following individual competitions
- Senior Maths Challenge
- Mathematical Olympiad for Girls
- Intermediate Maths Challenge
- Junior Maths Challenge
We expect to get over 30 medals in each challenge. We usually have some students who will get through to the at least one of the follow up rounds (called Kangaroos) and sometimes the “Olympiad”.
We also enter the following Team competitions:
- Senior Team Maths Challenge – (competing against A-level students)
- Year 10 Maths Feast
- Junior Team Maths Challenge
Saint Martin’s funds the entry into these competitions and provides suitable training for those we enter.
This reflects our commitment to produce as many top quality mathematicians as possible.